Poem: Phantom Pain

By: Paris Hughes


I dodged mirrors after the surgery,

Would even wrinkle my eyelids in a tight

Squeeze near glass, not ready to view

The twisted limb, to know why the pinched

Nerves pushed out cries and curses in darkness.

                Months later,

skilled at sliding from bed to wheelchair,

I once forgot to shut my eyes, so caught a glimpse

Of myself in the dresser mirror. My brain

Observed, from eyes’ surprise,

How tissue and bone beneath the left

Knee had vanished, was quickly replaced

By a stump with deep grooves and scars in the skin.

I blinked at mirrors all day; the remains never

Returned. But–

sharp waves still dangled

over bed’s edge every morning. So,

                For months,

I challenged reflections until finally,

What once seized the phantom bones


Trailed behind the missing.


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